Word had hardly gotten out that Rep. Mike Pence, R-IN, was thinking of stepping down as chairman of the House Republican Conference in order to make a run for either the White House or the Indiana governorship before the rumor mill was crackling with messages about who might be/should be/better not be his successor.
In NASCAR, they call this process the "silly season" because rumors swirl like crazy after the last race of the year about which driver is leaving which top-ranked team to join another multi-million dollar outfit. A Hensarling move to replace Pence might thus be analogized along the lines of Dale Earnhard Jr. replacing Kevin Harvick.
So would Rep. Marsha Blackburn succeeding Pence be like Danica Patrick replacing Denny Hamlin?
Anyway, it didn't take long before it was clear that the odds-on favorite for the post is most likely Rep. Jeb Hensarling, thanks to multiple tips from the number of folks not on the Texas Republican's staff that he has the inside track.
Sure enough, this morning Roll Call is reporting Hensarling as the choice of the House GOP leadership:
"Pence, who is rumored to be eyeing a presidential or gubernatorial bid, has not declared he will step aside from his post and Hensarling has not publicly expressed interest in replacing him, but Republican sources familiar with discussions say Hensarling’s conservative credentials as a former chairman of the Republican Study Committee, close relationships with leaders and ability to raise millions of dollars for the National Republican Congressional Committee make him a prime candidate for the chairmanship," Roll Call's Jackie Kucinich reported.
You can read her full report here.
Not surprisingly, flaks for Pence and Hensarling aren't commenting.
Given the central importance of economic issues to the incoming Congress, however, Hensarling is a logical choice. He's smart, articulate, and respected for being firmly committed to conservative principles. He's done solid work as one of the most visible GOPers on the House Budget Committee and the Financial Services Committee especially with regard to the roles of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the economic crisis of 2008.
And he's pushed for a spending cap constitutional amendment that would keep federal expenditures from exceeding the national economic growth rate. Don't overlook the importance of his being a Texan, either, as the Lone Star State is steadily becoming the fulcrum upon which the Republican Party hinges.